- ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/Getty
- The “fat tax” is a difference in price between items – clothing, bikes, furniture, etc. – made for those in the plus-sized community and those who are not.
- The same T-shirt at Old Navy could cost $16.99 for straight sizes (XS to XXL) and $19.99 for plus sizes.
- Airlines like Alaska Airlines require passengers to pay for an extra seat if they “cannot comfortably fit within one seat with the armrests in the down position.”
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The body positive movement is on the rise, with people of all backgrounds, shapes, and sizes challenging conventional beauty standards. The plus-size community, of course, is also taking part. Its proud members are making their bodies seen and voices heard.
Not to be confused with a tax imposed on unhealthy foods, many consider the “fat tax” to be “the differences in cost just for the plus-sized consumer,” plus-size fashion and style blogger of The Curvy Fahionista Marie Denee told Business Insider. “You go to a site that carries plus [sizes 14 and above] and straight sizes [0 to 12] and it’s the exact same top, but it’s, like, three-to-five dollars more in plus.”
According to full-figured fashion blogger Alysse Dalessandro of Ready to Stare, retailers are “charging more for those garments under the guise that, ‘Okay, well, you’re bigger so it takes more material.'” While that might be the case, she said, from a business standpoint, prices do not have to be decided with straight sizes as the reference point.
“If you priced based off an extra small,” Dalessandro told Business Insider, “it’s almost like you’re prioritizing those customers, and to me that’s just not fair.” With almost 70 percent of American women wearing a size 14 or above, according to The Atlantic, those considered to be “plus” are far from the minority.
Does the “fat tax” exist outside of just clothing?
“I feel like there is fat tax in everything,” said Dalessandro. “We’re charged more just to be in a space … It’s more societal than actual dollar.”
Here are five real-world examples that prove the “fat tax” exists.
Clothing companies that sell to both straight and plus-sized people sometimes charge the latter more.
- Melia Robinson/Business Insider
Companies like Target and Forever 21 have started extending their sizing to plus, but pricing can be different for those looking for sizes 1X and above. The same T-shirt at Old Navy, for instance, could cost $16.99 for straight sizes and $19.99 for plus sizes. Target’s website also lists the same pair of women’s wide leg lounge pajama pants by Colsie for straight and plus sizes, the straight-sized pants costing $19.99 and the plus-sized pants costing $21.99.
Though many airlines have “passenger of size” policies, often those passengers are the ones who pay for the extra space.
- Suhyeon Choi/Unsplash
“Fitting into the flying sardine cans that we now call airplanes is difficult at the best of times,” said Carrie A. Trey of the The Points Guy, “add to the equation the fact that the seats are designed for one specific body type that’s not at all representative of everyone who makes up the ‘flying public.'”
The post lists 12 different airlines and their “passenger of size” policies. Alaska Airlines requires passengers to pay for an extra seat if they “cannot comfortably fit within one seat with the armrests in the down position.” United Airlines states that, “A customer flying in the economy cabin who is not able to safely and comfortably fit in a single seat is required to purchase an additional seat for each leg of their itinerary.”
Popular furniture does not always accommodate plus-sized customers, forcing them to buy more expensive options.
- Getty Images/Christopher Furlong
Finding budget-friendly furniture that accommodates a plus-sized frame can be a challenge.
The cheapest patio chairs sold on Home Depot and Target’s websites support a weight of up to 250 lbs. With the average American man weighing nearly 200 lbs., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many in the plus-size community likely surpass the 250 lbs. mark, forcing them to buy more expensive furniture.
Mattresses, too, are not always made with the plus-size community in mind. People “don’t even realize that the average mattress is designed for someone who is 250 pounds,” said Dalessandro.
Among Business Insider’s best ranked mattresses, though the Lucid memory foam mattress was ranked best affordable mattress, heavyweight users who tested it gave the latter some of its lowest scores, meaning for a good night’s sleep, they likely would have to invest in a more expensive mattress.
There could be a nearly $800-difference in price between the best ranked cheap bikes and those made with plus-size riders in mind.
- Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
“Biking while fat” can also get expensive. The cheapest bike on Bicycling magazine’s list of the 14 best cheap bikes for every kind of ride costs $134.99. The cheapest bike on the magazine’s list of best gear for big riders, specifically, is $910. New York City’s bike sharing program Citi Bike has also come under fire as its bikes don’t support a weight of more than 260 lbs.
Even when it comes time to plan for what happens after life, oversize caskets are more expensive than their smaller counterparts.
In the ’80s, Keith and Julane Davis started casket-making company Goliath Casket. They’ve since seen the demand for larger caskets grow.
”People are getting wider and they’re getting thicker,” Mrs. Davis told The New York Times in 2003.
- Read more:
- Walmart has acquired plus-size fashion brand Eloquii for a reported $100 million – here are 20 of our favorite styles
- Christian Siriano said he tripled his business by including ‘plus-size’ clothing – and it makes no sense that other designers aren’t following suit
- Four former Gilt executives just launched an online shopping emporium dedicated to the plus-size fashion market
- Kmart has renamed its ‘plus-size’ section in stores – but people think its new name is ‘patronizing’